My name is Kevin and I am a geek.
Okay, please stop shrugging your shoulders and rolling your eyes thinking, "so this is news how?"
Well, like any good 12 stepper, I now know on whom I should focus the blame for my "affliction." The mea culpa is on the part of my parents.
Yep, you read that right. It's all my parents' fault that I am the geek I am today.
It started back in 1977 with a little movie called Star Wars that I'm told did decently well in theaters.
Being the conscientious parents that they are, my mom and dad screened the movie themselves before taking me to see it. It looked like the sort of film that a child could possibly enjoy, but the concept of a summer blockbuster film was still a fairly novel idea in 1977. Could such a film be family friendly?
They ventured out and saw it and, from all accounts, enjoyed it. So they later took me to see it. Whether this was during the initial theatrical release in 1977 or one of the subsequent releases in 1978 or 1979 is something of which I am unsure.
I remember nothing of the affair whatsoever. Did I enjoy it? Apparently enough so that my parents started the mad chain of investment in Kenner's rapidly expanding line of Star Wars action figures, vehicles, and playsets.
I quickly amassed the toys and other non-toy-yet-still-Star-Wars-related paraphernalia like pajamas, bedsheets, Underoos, a watch, storybooks, books on record, and whatever else. An early photo that my parents still display shows me on the stairs of our house in Rochester, NY, in my Star Wars pajamas holding on to an X-Wing Fighter and leering at the cameraperson with a "why am I here" look etched on my four-year-old face.
Even then I was destined for a life behind the camera.
Enter 1980 and the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Another great movie although I never truly appreciated it until I was much older and was able to lift it to the pantheonic top spot on my favorite movies of all time list (that spot is now occupied by The Shawshank Redemption with ESB in second place; sorry Han).
I know we saw this one in theaters as well, likely in Lexington, KY, but I don't remember actually seeing it. I was now five years old. I remember playing with Battlestar Galactica toys and watching Sanford & Son on TV right around this same time period, so I should remember seeing ESB quite well, but I do not.
However, I do remember the toys that my parents continued to buy for me and that I also received as holiday gifts from everyone in my known universe. My addiction was firmly entrenched. And I do remember playing with the toys. In fact, a friend of mine who owned the Dagobah Playset, would bring it over to my house and we would place it under the weeping willow tree in my backyard and flood the area around it with water. Then we would crash an X-Wing Fighter through the branches and into the muck to recreate Luke Skywalker's first meeting with Yoda.
I told you I was a geek.
In 1983, I went to see the third film in the series, Return of the Jedi. And this one I remember quite well. It was Wednesday, May 25, 1983, in Lexington, KY, and I should have been in school day. Instead, my mom, along with the mom of two of my good friends, kept the trio of us home from school so we could see the first showing of the new film.
At eight years old, I was in heaven. Or, at least, my closest mental approximation of it.
Afterwards, we dined at Long John Silver's. Or maybe it was Captain D's. Well, it was seafood. That much I know.
The next day, I returned to school under the inquisitive stare of my second-grade teacher. At some point in the day, the teacher looked at me and asked, "so how was Star Wars?"
I feigned ignorance. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Of course, the confrontation piqued the interest of all my classmates who stopped what they were doing to watch the two of us.
"I know you went to see the new Star Wars movie yesterday, didn't you?"
"No. I was home sick."
"I don't believe you, Kevin. You're a huge Star Wars fan and the new movie came out yesterday. I've got a pretty good idea that you were there with Charlie and Michelle Belden."
"Are you sure? You can tell me the truth."
"I didn't see Star Wars yesterday," I stated authoritatively in hopes of ending the conversation and I buried my face in a book.
It wasn't over.
"I don't know, Kevin. I still think you saw it."
I slammed my book down on my desk and said, "FINE! I saw it! Are you happy? I saw Return of the Jedi yesterday!"
And the assault by my classmates went into full swing. They crowded my desk. They got up in my face. They asked all the important questions. "How was it?" "Will I like it?" "Would you see it again?" and, of course, "What happened?"
To that last question, I made my face appear appropriately somber, looked them in the eyes, and said, "Skywalker dies."
A hushed silence fell upon my classmates. Their eyes grew larger than saucers and their jaws hung open limply. I think I may have seen a tear or two.
I was an evil little shit.
But I was honest. As I am being now when I claim that my geekdom is all my parents' fault.
The fact that I saw two of the prequel movies with my brother on opening day despite being an "adult"...
The fact that I eagerly attended a midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith with my brother in law and another friend leaving my wife at home to sleep...
The fact that my heart still skips a beat each time I'm in Borders and I see one of those Master Replica FX Lightsabers near the register and I smile as I see a new generation of kids pick up the open-box model and ignite the blade...
The fact that I own three copies of the "Original Trilogy" set on VHS, including one very rare widescreen copy, and a copy of all six movies on DVD (although I categorically refuse to own a copy of the blasphemous "official" original trilogy DVD set released by Lucasfilm; mine are bootlegs of the original laserdiscs)...
The fact that I still like taking a run down the toy aisles in Target, Meijer's, and WalMart to see what's new while my wife races ahead so as not to be associated with me...
...they are all to be blamed squarely on my parents.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. I love you.
(that's genuine, not sarcastic - just so it's not misinterpreted)